Archive

June 3rd, 2016

Tightwad Trump Explodes

    Donald Trump has a simple reason for his long delay in explaining what happened to the money he raised for veterans’ charities: He didn’t want any publicity.

    “Because I wanted to make this out of the goodness of my heart,” he told a news conference in which he castigated reporters for forcing him to provide details.

    Of all conceivable explanations, “too self-effacing” ranks somewhere below “temporarily kidnapped by space aliens.” Let’s look elsewhere. The best possibilities seem to be:

    A) Cheapness.

    B) Tendency to make things up.

    C) Difficulty in getting a disorganized, minimally qualified, perpetually short-handed staff to keep track of the cash.

    Obviously, we’re going for all three.

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Trustworthiness remains Hillary Clinton's Achilles heel

    The long-awaited State Department inspector general's report on Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server produced no smoking gun. But it did unveil an even worse political vulnerability: her transparent dissembling.

    After months of stonewalling and insisting that she had done nothing illegal or barred by department regulations, the former secretary of state finally took refuge in saying that what she had done was "a mistake" and that in reflection she regretted the choice she had made.

    Throughout, she said, she had chosen to use the private server in her New York suburban home as a matter of convenience and never was told it was against department policy.

    While the Office of Inspector General's report made no allegation of actionable wrongdoing, it did pointedly observe that, for all of her claims that she was being forthcoming, she twice "declined OIG's request for an interview," as did two key staff aides.

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Vote comes down to liar vs. liar

    If the delegate forecast holds steady, Americans choosing their next president will pick between two known liars in November.

    Donald Trump lies flamboyantly on a wide range of subjects, from his net worth to his business failures to his donations to veterans. He lies so often and so casually that it barely rates a headline anymore.

    Hillary Clinton's style of lying is more calculated and nuanced, but we got a peek last week from the State Department's inspector general. He issued a blunt, damaging report about her controversial use of private emails while she was secretary of state.

    The report didn't accuse Clinton of recklessly sharing classified information, but she was called out for lying on a key point. Ever since it was revealed that she'd used a private email server and a personal email account for official communications, Clinton has insisted that the State Department had "allowed" or "permitted" her to do that.

    Not true, according to Inspector General Steve Linick.

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Is the GOP losing its religion?

    In American politics, where has God gone?

    Of course this is an inadequate way of posing the question. God is always present for believers, even if the political workings of the divine can be hard to discern. And religious people continue to occupy points all along the spectrum. Just ask Hillary Clinton about her Methodism.

    But especially among Republicans, religious issues have taken a back seat in the party's discourse and religious leaders are playing a diminished role in the 2016 campaign.

     This was not how things started. Many had the remarkable experience during the primaries of hearing Ted Cruz declare to his followers: "Awaken the body of Christ that we might pull back from the abyss." You can't get much more religious than that.

    But Cruz failed to awaken and unite religious conservatives, a reason why Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee. The split this year among conservative evangelicals was profound.

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Would you buy a used car from this man?

    Should we be surprised? It turns out Donald Trump was not telling the truth after all, last January 28, when he bragged about having raised $6 million for veterans that evening in a campaign rally he staged in Des Moines, rather than attend a Fox News GOP debate scheduled for the same evening.

    Ever since then, reporters have been asking two questions: How much money was actually raised? And which veterans' organizations received it? This week, we finally got the answers: $5.6 million, split among 41 groups. But most of the money was raised, not in January, but in May, once the Washington Post reported that it looked like Trump was reneging on his deal. In fact, several checks, including Trump's own check for $1 million, were not written until May 24, one week before his news conference.

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Supporters await Trump's 'presidential' transformation in vain

    Republican establishment leaders now falling in behind Donald Trump hope he will somehow become more "presidential" as their party's nominee and, if elected, as the Oval Office occupant.

    That dream accounts for the likes of such conservatives as Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Marco Rubio and even John McCain, who are holding to their early vow to support the eventual nominee at the GOP convention next month in Cleveland.

    But Trump characteristically threw cold water on the notion of a new, more presidential Donald in his whining and mean-spirited New York news conference Tuesday. He defended his promised charitable contributions to veterans' groups while intensifying his indictment of reporters questioning him on the scope and timing of them.

    Having repeatedly declared earlier that he had given $6 million, Trump was pressed on where and when the money went, and why he was saying now his donations amounted to (only) $5.6 million. He complained that reporters "make me look very bad," adding, "I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job."

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June 2nd

Justice for military victims of sexual assault

    Three years ago, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing at the height of a contentious debate about sexual assault in the military, one of our nation's highest-ranking military officials - the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - blatantly misled Congress to defeat a policy reform. The question now is: Does Congress care?

    The debate was about the central question related to military sexual assault: When a service member is accused of sexually assaulting someone, who decides whether to prosecute? The Defense Department insists that a commander should decide, even though most commanders have little to no expertise in legal or criminal matters, and may know and socialize with the accused. A bipartisan majority of the Senate agreed with me that this decision should be made instead by a highly trained military prosecutor, outside the chain of command of the victim and the accused.

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Donald Trump should be ashamed

    It is beyond contempt that a politician would use a family tragedy to further his candidacy, but such is the character of Donald Trump displayed in his recent comments to The Washington Post. In this interview, Trump cynically, crassly and recklessly insinuated that my brother, Vincent W. Foster Jr., may have been murdered because "he had intimate knowledge of what was going on" and that Hillary Clinton may have somehow played a role in Vince's death.

    How wrong. How irresponsible. How cruel.

    "There are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder," Trump said in response to a question about Vince's death.

    Trump was canny enough to hedge - he's not the one raising questions, he said, but others have. He noted that Vince "knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide." The circumstances of Vince's death, he observed, were "very fishy" and the theories about possible foul play "very serious."

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How to avoid nuclear catastrophe

    President Barack Obama's visit to Hiroshima comes almost 71 years after the conclusion of a world war that was fought and ended with tremendous sacrifice, huge casualties and immense devastation. Today, global nuclear arsenals are capable of destroying not only cities but also civilization itself. Albert Einstein's prophesy bears repeating: "I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth - rocks!"

    Since the end of World War II, the United States and our allies have relied on the ultimate threat of mutual assured destruction for our security, as the Soviet Union did and Russia does now. Today, with nine nations possessing nuclear arms and terrorists seeking them, this strategy has become increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.

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The long lines at airports are a problem for Hillary Clinton

    The long security lines at U.S. airports are another problem for Hillary Clinton. A lot of Americans interact with the Transportation Security Administration, and they expect that agency to function properly. And when there is a problem, they want it fixed. Does anyone think of Clinton as a problem-solver? Answer: No. Can anyone think of a problem she has ever solved?

    As I have written before, the Democrats are identified as a party that agitates for interest groups and social causes. They impose their will through regulations and via the courts. The Barack Obama era has left the Democrats without any claim to managerial expertise or problem-solving skills, and Clinton will pay a price for that in November.

    The current problems at the TSA are a perfect example. When Americans are standing in lines at our nation's airports and fuming about incompetence in government, they don't want to hear excuses about a lack of government resources. Who do you think is more likely to shake things up with the bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security and actually get the TSA working, President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump? It's no contest.

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